Tower of Power: Fair Park Crawls Closer to Becoming Year-Round Destination

Fair Park Midway 020.jpg
Photos by Leslie Minora
The Observation Tower Ride will fill this 30-foot hole behind the Cotton Bowl. Don't worry, they're covering it up for the State Fair.
There is a big hole in Fair Park. Finally. Eventually the crater will be filled with a 500-foot pole surrounded by a doughnut-shaped slowly spinning glass chamber. This new rotating ride will give visitors a 360-degree view of Dallas and, so they say, rival the Texas Star. But you knew that: We've written about the plans before at least once or twice.

At yesterday's meeting of the Landmark Commission's Fair Park Task Force, the tower ride, previously approved in general terms, was presented by architect Jon Rollins in greater visual detail with landscaping and design features. With little questioning, the task force recommended the project particulars for Landmark's approval.

The design for the ride, financed by the State Fair of Texas, involves salmon-and-gray-colored concentric cement circles intended to compliment the color scheme of the rest of the park. A semi-circle fountain with "playful" spurts of water will cradle one side, and a minimalist contemporary gray fabric shade structure will cover the waiting area, which can accommodate 130 people in line for the ride.

Programmable LED lights could also figure into the design to illuminate the structure, like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building ... not to blow this out of proportion. But like these two iconic structures, the tower ride, which seats about 100 people, will be used to view the surrounding sights. As Rollins said, "It's an observation ride as opposed to a thrill ride."

toweraerial-thumb-560x271.jpg
An illustration of what will someday fill the crater in Fair Park
If all goes according to plan, you can expect to sit yourself in the giant glass doughnut by no later than October 2012 -- in time for next year's state fair. Several months after that, in the summer of 2013, The Midway -- essentially a carnival on steroids or a mini theme park -- is set to finally open as a major part of Errol McKoy's plan to utilize Fair Park year-round-ish, first mentioned more than two years ago.

But that's not all: Friends of Fair Park is implementing a cell phone tour of the park, similar to the one available around Dealey Plaza.

The project will include four different tours: general, family, art/architecture and "quirky." As it stands, there are 67 points at which you can stand, dial a number and hear a little history and context about what's in front of you. At yesterday's meeting, the task force debated signage and what would be the most practical, clear and streamlined way to present the cell phone tour information.

Friends of Fair Park President Craig Holcomb tells Unfair Park that temporary signs are planned for soon after this year's fair. He says he'll send us a sampling from the audio tour as soon as the recordings are ready for prime time.

In the mean time, if you're looking for an excuse to visit the park, check out the Fourth of July offerings -- fireworks, as usual, in addition to free museum admissions and a concert by the Dallas Wind Symphony.

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29 comments
Geoh57
Geoh57

Any updates on the tower?

RJ
RJ

Much of the 'myth' about Fair Park being dangerous is good old-fashioned racism. Just like the refusal to believe that any DISD schools are better than some suburban schools.

RW1961
RW1961

All of this talk about the neighborhood around Fair Park and no mention of the "fund" that was supposed to provide all kinds of money to help the area but turned into a slush fund for politicians and "preachers"?

Ben
Ben

Interesting to see the infamous "Lagow Sands" exposed. This is a sand formation that runs under Fair Park and is infamous for ice age fossils that were found under what is now the State Fair Parking Lots. "Lagow Man" is the most famous. He was a Pleistocene (Ice Age) skeleton found near what is now the Fitzhugh flyover. Mammoth, bison, saber tooth tiger, antelope, Pleistocene horse, bear were also found in great numbers. Probably still a whole pile of them down there.

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

I love riding my bike to Fair Park and visualizing how it must've looked in the '30s, or how it would look with more buildings and better restoration of the grounds. I FREAKIN' LOVE THIS PLACE. Even donated to the Friends of Fair Park so they could put my name on their Brick Promenade and, even though they misspelled my name on the brick, I hope each one of you would make a similar donation.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Let me clarify: Inside the Fair Park gates, I feel just fine. I actually go over at least once/twice times a week to walk and see whats going on during the year, as well as patronage businesses in expo park. What i'm referring to is the neighborhoods surrounding the area, that have fallen into poverty and disrepair over the decades. What id like to see is more business move in to the neighborhood and turn this area into an amazing place to work and live once again, make it a year-round destination for everyone. Until then, FP will be stigmatized w/ the "unsafe" badge..

MattL1
MattL1

I have personally never felt in any danger in or around Fair Park.  I wasn't armed or wearing armor, either.  Some of you "nuke the neighborhoods" folk should take a trip down this way sometime.  I'll spot you the DART ride.

John D (Jackson, Wyoming)
John D (Jackson, Wyoming)

About every other year we spend our spring break in Dallas (primarily to see family) and every time, we have spent the better part of a day at the museums.  This past spring was no different. In fact we even spent one morning at a 5k race event.  In all of those trips over the last 12 years we have felt no less safe than on our hundreds of trips to Grand Teton National Park (our local national park).  It's a shame that the "Dangerous Fair Park" myth has become what it has.

lorlee
lorlee

Good grief, you are safer in Fair Park than a lot of places.  What a shame you all have allowed yourselves to believe a lot of false stereotypes.  Have you ever been there except at the Fair.  You are in a contained area with tall fences.  You don't have to park in the neighborhood.  You park in the grounds.  I was just there a couple of weeks ago and the grounds are beautiful and no one hassled us -- nothing.  People are letting their prejudices keep them from enjoying an historic, beautiful park. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

A great man once said to me "If you nuke the neighborhoods around fair park and turn it into a nice area with business and good residence, they will come".

Short of that, it'll take a modern day miracle to convince people to come to fair park year round

Gregdallas
Gregdallas

snooze --- i can imagine a line of little old ladies and little old men coming to ride this.  If they really want to bring people to fair park how about something with just a little excitement? Even a lame rollercoaster would be better than this.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Fair Park is safe year-round. I take the boy at least once a month, just to hang out. Never had any problem. Never been hassled. Never felt threatened. Never had anything less than a great time. Now, look, I understand the perception that the neighborhood's ... unsound. My father's auto parts store was on Second Avenue from 1955 till a couple of years ago. I've spent a lot of time over there. I've gone down to the store with Dad at 1 in the morning, when the alarm went off and someone drove a truck into the side wall to gut the warehouse. But I've never, ever felt unsafe there. Ever. Just visit Fair Park on a lovely Saturday. Take in a museum. See the sites. Then report back.

Jay
Jay

It would be nice to have Fair Park in operation all year.  Hopefully it will help clean up the ghetto surrounding the park.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

"A semi-circle fountain with "playful" spurts of water will cradle one side"

Who will be paying for the water?  Will the fountain use recirculated water or send fresh water down the drain?  Just curious since the City can't afford to use existing fountains on a regular basis.

MattL1
MattL1

Didn't know that at all.  Very cool.

Lee
Lee

Chris Danger, have you really looked at some of the neighborhoods around Fair Park? Some are as safe as any in Dallas. Low income does not always mean dangerous.

Coleman
Coleman

people were saying the same thing about Oak Cliff until recently, to be fair

W. Allen Simmons
W. Allen Simmons

They tore the roller coaster down unfortunately. It was wonderful, too. The Comet. It was my understanding insurance was not affordable for such an old wooden coaster...

Russp
Russp

The city will need to clean up the area around Fair Park before most people will be willing to pack up the kids and head here most of the year. It only works during the State Fair because the large crowds and large police presence make people feel comfortable.

Guest
Guest

Oh good grief. Really? This is your major concern? 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Actually Lee, yes I have as I live in Deep Ellum. What im saying is that it would be nice to have some money pumped into the neighborhood to make them better places to not only visit, but to live as well. Build out decent shops and restaurants for everyone to visit year-round and people will come in droves.

LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

I've been going to Fair Park for 50-something years now, almost always parking on the street and have NEVER had a problem. Also I went to school with kids who live(d) on the north side of the park. They are good people and I don't appreciate them being described in such terms.

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

You should try the park on a less than hot Saturday.  The auto museum is now operational and cool for the guys.  The kids aquarium is just small enough to keep the kiddos entertained and engaged for long enough.  the butherfly garden is open for the ladies, and it's simply nice to walk around in, grab a sno cone and enjoy with family.  The parking lot is safe and there aren't any people panhandling.  Give it a shot.  We did and we think it's great, not to mention Safe.

engmofo
engmofo

I so agree with you guys. I personally will not park within a mile of there for fear my car will be in pieces when I return, myself & the little one always wear out Kevlar vests & never never wear those "Good" sneakers…

Wilhelm
Wilhelm

An excellent way to deal with a sketchy person is to take along with you some paper and a drawing pencil. 

Guest
Guest

If you ride with a buddy, the sketchy people will have to sit in front of you or behind you.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Also have never had an issue in Fair Park or Exposition Park. Of course, if you ride the train, you might have to sit next to a "sketchy" person.

Guest
Guest

On the upside, you can park your car in Richardson if you want and ride the train all the way to the front gate.

I've been to plenty of events at Fair Park outside of fair time, and I've never had an issue, even when I drove and left my car in the parking lot. Not even when I went to the low-rent circus out there.

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